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Citroen DS3 1.6 THP 2010 Road Test

Sat, 01 May 2010

The Citroen DS3 has given rise to a new word: “Trinketry”. No other car has seen so much effort devoted to this new found automotive art, of turning a car into a piece of jewellery.

In the DS3 trinketry is everywhere:

The vertical banks of LED DRLs either side of its snout, the diamond cut wheels, the extraordinary B-Pillar, the chrome side strakes, the way the rear privacy glass blends into the roof, the scalloped tail lights, and most of all the styled DS3 badge on the back.

And, of course, there’s more inside. Dials that light up and dance when you turn the key. Neatly installed satnav. Comfortable Alcantara suede upholstery. A coloured panel in front of the passenger. Alloy pedals. Even a key that has to be inserted the right way up for the fob to hang neatly.

But all this eye candy would be wasted if the car was a dog to drive. Happily, it isn’t.

Mine came fitted with an old man’s best friend: PSA’s chain cam 1.6 THP 150 that I drove for 6 months under the bonnet of a Peugeot 207, and which also finds its way into MINI Coopers. In the DS3 it comes connected to something my 207 desperately needed: a six speed gearbox with a nice, sensible set of ratios that give you 30mph per 1,000rpm in top instead of the 21mph or so I suffered in 5th in the Peugeot.

That means an easily achievable 40 – 45mpg on the motorway, while the pleasant character of the engine at both ends of the rev range can also be enjoyed. It’s docile and tractable in traffic, and smooth at high revs. A lot smoother, I felt, than the similarly powered turbo-supercharged 1.4 in the SEAT Ibiza I was driving last week.

You don’t feel the harshness of the low profile 17” tyres quite as much as on the Ibiza FR. And a 630 mile drive confirmed that it's an excellent drive, combining punchy, flexible engine, 6 ideal gear ratios, very good handling and grip and a particularly tidy front-end, less prone to understeer than many FWD set ups. It's not in the same class as a RenaultSport Megane 250, but it delivers the goods. And it had the best cruise control I have ever used. Just leave it on and you can quickly set it and adjust your speed up or down 1mph at a time by the two finger buttons behind the steering wheel.

Over 630 miles, 130 of them quick cross country, it gave 44 miles to the gallon. 

So, no worries. The DS3 is the kind of car I’d have like a shot because it combines performance, economy, handling and looks.

If you want more economy, you can always go for the diesel, with 90 or 100PS, and soon there will also be one that emits just 99g/km, which means no annual VED to pay. For the THP 150 you’ll be asked for £155.

But I’d pay that every year just for the sheer joy of the way it drove.

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